Agricultural Origins: Centers and Noncenters

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Science  29 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4008, pp. 468-474
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4008.468


I propose the theory that agriculture originated independently in three different areas and that, in each case, there was a system composed of a center of origin and a noncenter, in which activities of domestication were dispersed over a span of 5,000 to 10,000 kilometers. One system includes a definable Near East center and a noncenter in Africa; another system includes a North Chinese center and a noncenter in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific; the third system includes a Mesoamerican center and a South American noncenter. There are suggestions that, in each case, the center and noncenter interact with each other. Crops did not necessarily originate in centers (in any conventional concept of the term), nor did agriculture necessarily develop in a geographical "center."

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